I think that Eiseley’s message for the majority of the passage was better expressed, in idea and prose, by Thoreau in his novel Walden. The Immense Journey, to me, has its moments of insight, albeit brief ones and Eiseley does express himself fairly well. The world gives itself to the individual in solitude, whether in a literal sense or simply in a passing moment of privacy. Society provides distraction and the world, in all its chaotic organization and grace can very easily be taken for granted.
But in those quiet moments in your head, when for some reason our attention is drawn away from responsibilities and entertainment, we can feel apart of the world (it’s ironic that we spend our lives searching for our place in the world and it isn’t until we’re alone that we can find it). Society has bred us to believe that as humans we should set ourselves apart from everything else, that there is man and there is animal, where man is civilized, animal is primitive. We have been brought up to assume that we are above, the pinnacle of evolution. Our false beliefs are as archaic as we believe our beastly cousins to be.
We are a rung on the evolutionary ladder, a stepping stone on a river that can’t be crossed. We aren’t “above” anything else. We are subject to the same physical laws. We assume that our ability to question the life we were given sets us apart from the world, and it does, be we are not above it. We are not the product, but part of the process. And I think that everyone, on some level, realizes that.
It just takes solitude, a place free from obligation and distraction to realize it. For Eiseley, it was the water, for Thoreau it was Walden. I think today people are missing out on this moment though. Aldous Huxley’s nightmare is coming to fruit, and popular culture is flooding the minds of people everywhere. Suri Cruise and Bennifer have become far more influential names than Kafka and Bukowski.
Literature is dying. For every great book written, ten mindless beach reads are mass produced for a public searching for.